Epic Games president Mike Capps likes to jump into new technology, but from an investment standpoint the company tends to sit back and watch for a console's success before developing a title. In a new interview, Capps explains some of his reservations about the PlayStation Vita, and why its performance in the western market will determine the company's decisions to develop for it.
Capps' main concern seems to be how it will perform next to smart phones, which are taking an increasing share of mobile markets. "I'm not sure how well [Vita is] going to be accepted in our Western market which is primarily where our games sell," he told GamesIndustry.biz. "It's a really cool platform, but I have a phone, and it's really hard to compete with that."
Capps says that Epic worked on their tech because licensees were "curious" about the device, but that's a far cry from the familiarity that comes from shipping a game. "That's how we know we know that platform, and it's really important for us to do that," he said. "And so with Vita we're not planning on shipping a game and so that means we're pretty honest with folks and say 'you can have the Vita code we've got but this is not the same as us having shipped on Xbox or iPhone.'"
This isn't entirely new, as Epic held back on shipping an Xbox game until it had a year to gather an install base. He says launch titles are "costly in terms of poor install base on the platform," and that "the first year is always bad, it's always hard, and so we just prefer to wait."
Still, support from third-parties is necessary to build an install base, so it puts Sony in a bit of a catch-22 situation. Smartphone competition is going to be tough to overcome, and the Vita's dedicated handheld competition, the 3DS, will have a full year and a holiday season of a head start. We'll have to see if the device crosses the threshold to coax in publishers like Epic.